Israeli study: Child vaccination cuts flu-related hospitalization by 54%

Conducted by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and University of Michigan, the study is one of the few in the world that has tested the effectiveness of childhood vaccination.

Vaccination against the flu (photo credit: CLALIT HEALTH SERVICES)
Vaccination against the flu
Fully vaccinating children reduced the risk of hospitalization for complications associated with influenza by 54%, according to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), and Clalit Research Institute in Israel and University of Michigan.
The research was conducted by Dr. Hannah Segaloff, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, and Prof. Mark Katz of Ben-Gurion University’s department of health management, Faculty of Health Sciences and a senior researcher at the Clalit Institute of General Research.
Published in December 2019 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the study is one of the few in the world that has tested the effectiveness of childhood vaccination against influenza and risk of hospitalization.
The study not only shows that the flu vaccine can reduce children’s hospitalization by more than half, it also confirms the guidelines in both Israel and the United States that recommend two vaccine doses for children up to age eight who have never been vaccinated or who previously received one dose.
“Children vaccinated according to government guidelines are much better protected from influenza than those who only receive one vaccine,” said Segaloff.
“Our results also showed that the vaccine was effective in three different seasons with different circulating viruses, reinforcing the importance of getting an influenza vaccine every year no matter what virus strain is circulating,” she added.
Katz declared that “young children are at high risk of hospitalization due to influenza complications. Children with underlying illnesses such as asthma and heart disease have an even greater risk of complications. It is important to prevent influenza infections in these at-risk groups.”
According to a Ben-Gurion University press release, the researchers hope that the study will impact parents’ decisions whether to vaccinate their children. Earlier this month, another study found that over 60% of Israeli parents have not vaccinated their children against the flu. While the flu vaccine was offered to about 300,000 children in grades second to fourth, 60% of parents throughout Israel refused the vaccine.
Those studies come after several people have died and many were hospitalized from complications caused by the flu. As of January 7, the death toll in Israel was estimated to be 18 people.
Prof. Dr. Yaakov Lavi stated that “veteran doctors such as us have never encountered such aggressiveness with the disease, and this is a warning sign for us all.”
The United States is also heavily affected by the flu, with an estimated 6.4 million cases, 55,000 hospitalizations and 2,900 deaths from the disease this season, according to the US Center for Disease Control.